MID Coast Football will again face formidable odds in this season's Herald Women's Premier League.
The competition will start on Sunday March 8 when Mid Coast FC (formerly Football Mid North Coast) tackles Newcastle Olympic at the Taree Zone Field.
Mid Coast returned to the premier league first grade last year after missing 2018 due to a lack of players. However, coach Mick Grass conceded it was a tough campaign.
After a promising start the side fell away, eventually finishing in last spot with two wins and a draw from 21 games.
"It was a steep learning curve and it was always going to be a rebuilding year,'' Grass said.
"We had a young squad with virtually no experience playing in a competition like the premier league.''
His squad started preparations for 2020 last November, although he admits getting all the players on deck at training in recent weeks has been a bit difficult during the holidays.
"But hopefully they'll all start to get there soon,'' he said.
Grass expects up to nine players from 2019 will be backing up this year and they'll form the nucleus of the squad. He also expects a couple of experienced players, Courtney Anderson and Mikayla Elford to be available this season and said they'll be invaluable.
However, Mid Coast will again field a largely young team.
"We're better prepared now than we were at this time last year,'' Grass said.
"But we're still going to face challenges.''
Eight clubs will again contest the league, with the other seven all based in Newcastle. As was the case in 2019 Mid Coast will start the year off with four home games, all to be played at the Taree Zone Field.
This presented problems last season when Mid Coast then had a string of games on the road, however, Grass said the draw seems better balanced this time around.
The majority of home games will be played at Taree, with others at the Wayne Richards Park in Port Macquarie.
W-League stars, predominantly from the Newcastle Jets filter back to the premier league once their commitments have finished. Last year all played with the Newcastle clubs, with travel cited as the reason Mid Coast missed out.
While giving nothing away, Grass said there's a 'possibility' Mid Coast might be able to attract a W-Leaguer this year.
He added there's been a lot of player movement in the competition so it's hard to predict the teams to beat.
"It looks as though New Lambton won't be the powerhouse they were last year,'' he said.
"But who knows, it's early days yet.''